MFI's SAP plan could save £35m

MFI expects to save up to£35 million in running costs once its project to centralise and integrate systems around a roll-out of SAP is completed.

The completion date is set for 2005, according to MFI business development director Simon Deane, and will mark the end of a five-year, IT-driven business revamp.

Deane added that the SAP project - dubbed Atlas - replaces a complex mix of home-grown IT applications that mirrored a way of doing business that no longer makes sense for the company.

'Lots of the existing system's functionality is based on a functional split between different business units within the company,' he said.

Deane is proud of the projected cost savings, but stressed they are just part of the picture and not the overall end-point of Atlas - which so far has cost MFI£14 million and may need another£10 million to get over the finishing line.

'As part of our ongoing revitalisation of the business, we see that a more integrated approach will offer us the ability to not just save operating cost, but integrate our supply chain, develop more products and better leverage our customer information.'

The project has now passed its first vital milestone. Phase I, covering financial systems, indirect procurement and property systems, began in May 2001 and was deployed in June this year.

The next phase, which covers inventory, planning, scheduling and direct purchasing, began a month later and is set for roll-out at the end of the year.

The remaining functionality - HR, manufacturing and the vital retail front-end - is scheduled to go live in 2005, said Deane.